Once again, in the words addressed by Ulysses to Nausicaa1 the poet makes clear the great honor in which he holds the virtuous companionship of man and wife in marriage. There he prays the gods to grant her a husband and a home; and between herself and her husband, precious unity of mind; provided that such unity be for righteous ends. For, says he, there is no greater blessing on earth than when husband and wife rule their home in harmony of mind and will. Moreover it is evident from this that the unity which the poet commends [170] is no mutual subservience in each other's vices, but one that is rightfully allied with wisdom and understanding; for this is the meaning of the words "rule the house in <harmony of> mind." And he goes on to say that wherever such a love is found between man and wife, it is a cause of sore distress to those who hate them and of delight to those that love them; while the truth of his words is most of all acknowledged by the happy pair.2 For when wife and husband are agreed about the best things in life, of necessity the friends of each will also be mutually agreed; and the strength which the pair gain from their unity will make them formidable to their enemies and helpful to their own. But when discord reigns between them, their friends too will disagree and become in consequence enfeebled, while the pair themselves will suffer most of all. [180]

In all these precepts it is clear that the poet is teaching husband and wife to dissuade one another from whatever is evil and dishonorable, while unselfishly furthering to the best of their power one another's honorable and righteous aims. In the first place they will strive to perform all duty towards their parents, the husband towards those of his wife no less than towards his own, and she in her turn towards his. Their next duties are towards their children, their friends, their estate, and their entire household which they will treat as a common possession; each vying with the other in the effort to contribute most to the common welfare, and to excel in virtue and righteousness; laying aside arrogance, and ruling with justice in a kindly and unassuming spirit. [190] And so at length, when they reach old age, and are freed from the duty of providing for others and from preoccupation with the pleasures and desires of youth, they will be able to give answer also to their children, if question arise whether child or parent3 has contributed more good things to the common household store; and will be well assured that whatsoever of evil has befallen them is due to fortune, and whatsoever of good, to their own virtue. One who comes victorious through such question wins from heaven, as Pindar says,4 his chiefest reward; for "hope, and a soul filled with fair thoughts are supreme in the manifold mind of mortals" ; and next, from his children the good fortune of being sustained by them in his old age. And therefore it behoves us to preserve throughout our lives a righteous attitude towards all gods and mortal men, to each individually, and to all in common5; [200] and not least towards our own wives and children and parents.

1 Hom. Od. 6.180ff.: “ σοὶ δὲ θεοὶ τόσα δοῖεν ὅσα φρεσὶ σῇσι μενοινᾷς,
ἄνδρα τε καὶ οἶκον καὶ ὁμοφροσύνην ὀπάσειαν
ἐσθλήν: οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἄρειον,
ὅθ᾽ ὁμοφρονέοντε νοήμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή: πόλλ᾽ ἄλγεα δυσμενέεσσιν,
χάρματα δ᾽ εὐμενέτῃσι: μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί

2 The Greek, as cited above, is μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί, "and themselves best know their own case."

3 Or "which of their parents."

4 A mistranslation of the following words, cited by Plat. Rep. 331a:

γλυκεῖά οἱ καρδίαν ἀτάλλοισα γηροτρόφος συναορεῖ
ἐλπίς, μάλιστα θνατῶν
πολύστροφον γνώμαν κυβερνᾷ

Pind. Frag. 214 (Loeb)
, "the old age (of a righteous man) is sustained by a pleasant companion that cherishes his heart; even by Hope, who more than aught else guides the wayward mind of mortals."

5 Or "both as individuals and as members of a community."

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